Digital copies of Gilbert Heasman’s World War One service papers can be viewed on-line at The National Archives of Australia. Although the photograph of him on the right is undated, the presence of lance-corporal’s stripes suggests that it must date from after September 1918. A summary of his service history follows.
When he attested on
12th April 1915, Gilbert Heasman was 22 years old. He had been born at Lewes in 1893, his birth
registered there in the June quarter of that year. He was the third son of Edric Owen Heasman
and Annie Heasman (nee Message) whose marriage was registered at
in the December quarter of 1887. Uckfield, Sussex
The 1901 census shows the Heasman family living at Whitehouse Number One,
East Chiltington, . Edric Heasman (aged 36 and born at Mayfield)
is noted as “stockman on farm”. His 35
year old wife Annie Heasman is recorded as having been born in Sussex .
Children noted are: Albert Heasman (aged 12, born in London ), Frederick Heasman (aged 10, born Bodle Street, Sussex East Chiltington), Gilbert Arthur Heasman (aged seven,
born in East Chiltington according to the
census)), Daisy May Heasman (aged five, born East
Chiltington) and Grace Hilda Heasman (aged two and also born in East Chiltington).
A two year old boarder, John A Irquhart (possibly), born in Liverpool, is also living at the address, as is a 59 year
old widower from Wivelsfield, George Mitchell.
Two further children would also be born: Beatrice Heasman in 1907 and
Percival Heasman in 1910.
Gilbert emigrated to
in 1912, following his brother Albert who had emigrated early the previous
year. Western Australia would join his brothers in 1913.
Prior to enlisting in the AIF, Gilbert and Albert worked as fettlers, helping
to lay the railway line from Geraldton to Mt Magnet, a gold mining town. In 1915, Gilbert joined the Australian
Imperial Force. Frederick
On attestation at
, Gilbert gave his trade as
Fettler and his next of kin as his father, Edric Owen Heasman, now living at
Tutts Farm, South Common, Chailey. He
was five feet, six and a half inches tall, had dark brown hair, dark eyes and a
medium complexion. Distinctive marks
were noted as vaccination marks plus scars on his left shin and left
wrist. Geraldton, Western Australia
He was given the number 2145 and, on
6th May 1915, posted to the 6th Reinforcements of the 11th
Battalion AIF. This battalion had
originally been formed in in August 1914. Western
7th June 1915 he
from Alexandria aboard Fremantle, Australia . Arriving in Geelong he then embarked for the Egypt Dardanelles aboard HMT Berrima on 31st July 1915. Five days later at Gallipoli, he was taken on
strength by the 11th AIF but it wasn’t long before he was reporting
sick. On 24th August he was
admitted to hospital with diarrhoea and, a few days later, on 7th September, was admitted to the 25th Casualty Clearing Station at
Imbros with a recurrence of diarrhoea.
Two days later he was admitted to hospital and then, on the 12th September, to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station. He remained in hospital until 26th September, re-joining his unit the following day.
Gilbert then remained at Gallipoli until the evacuation was ordered, although the precise date of his departure from the peninsular is unclear. He disembarked from HMT Lake Michigan at Alexandria on 6thJanuary but hadn’t been in Egypt long (27th January) before he was back in hospital (No 2 General Hospital, Cairo) with jaundice. Further spells in hospital followed while he was in
but on Egypt 23rd March
1916 he embarked at
for Alexandria ,
arriving at France
on 5th April. Marseilles
On 4th October Gilbert Heasman was awarded the Military Medal in the Field for gallantry at Pozieres. Chailey Parish Magazine and The London Gazette both noted this the following month. He appears to have remained in
for the remainder of the war. He was
appointed lance-corporal in September 1918 and granted leave only after the
Armistice had been signed, on France 20th November 1918. Between 22nd November and 7th December 1918 he was in the , presumably spending at least
some of this time with his parents in Chailey.
He also took the opportunity, on 27th November, to marry Beatrice Ethel
Weaver (born 1886 in UK East Chiltington).
in early December, he then remained there until 5th France February 1919 when he returned
for embarkation to UK
on the 21st. He was
discharged there on Australia 11th April 1919. A medical board
held on 10th June
1919 gave him a clean bill of health (despite his various hospital
stays) and also noted that he had enlisted originally at
in March 1915. Mount Magnet
After the war, for a short time, Albert and Gilbert ran a greengrocer’ shop in
West Perth. He had
intended to settle in
with his wife but because of some difficulty in her settling there with him, he
returned to Australia
in 1920. Two years later, their only
child, Doris Heasman, was born at Lewes. England
Gilbert remained in
for the rest of his life and died in 1965.
His medals are held at The Fremantle War Museum in England . Australia
Gilbert’s brothers Albert and Frederick also served their King and Country during the First World War.